Foie gras is a popular dish hailing from France and consists of the cooked liver of a fattened goose, duck, or hybrid mallard. You can find it in high-end European restaurants all over the world. In Asia, duck liver is also eaten traditionally by the Chinese. The Japanese are not completely unfamiliar and they have their own variant, not made from duck, but from fish.
Monkfish, or “anko” in Japanese, is a kind of fish species that are found in the North Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Pacific Ocean surrounding Japan. They are often referred to as the “sea devils” because of their peculiar look and sharp teeth. Their mouths are very wide, often engulfing a large fish of its own size, and they can be found at the bottom of the sea.
Most of the Japanese are familiar with the fish and they consume it often. The liver of the monkfish is extremely tasty and the Japanese make a dish called “ankimo”, which is actually considered to be one among the top 50 delicious foods in the world by CNN Travel. It can be compared to the French foie gras as it is a luxurious, delicious, and popular liver delicacy. The only difference is that there is no force-feeding done to the animal to fatten the liver artificially. This is a normal thing in France, but also a huge controversy.
There are actually different ways to cook ankimo. You can eat it in the form of sushi, seared like it’s done in the west, or steamed as an appetizer. If you’d like to eat it steamed, here is how to cook the delicious ankimo.
- There are three major ingredients you need to make steamed ankimo. These are the liver of the monkfish, which you can get from a fish market, soy sauce, and sake. Firstly, wash the liver for a few minutes and remove the small attached blood lines carefully without making the liver crumble into pieces.
- Marinate the liver with soy sauce for a few minutes until that scaly flavor of the fish is completely gone.
- Take the marinated liver and clean it again using a small cup of sake.
- Roll the liver in the form of a sausage in a thin foil and use a steamer to cook it on medium temperature for at least fifteen minutes.
- Take the steamed liver and put it in a freezer for a few hours until it becomes firm.
- Remove the wrap and cut the liver into pieces according to your preference.
- Do a bit of garnishing by using shiso, ponzu sauce, lemon, and grated vegetables such as radish. Many use pepper sauce to make it spicy instead of soy.
Your monkfish foie gras is ready to be served tasty and juicy!
In China and Europe, force-feeding animals for the sake of juicy meat is a common thing. In Europe, they call it “gavage” whereas in China, “Shen Dzu”. However, there is no such thing as force-feeding done to obtain monkfish liver in Japan. The Japanese catch the monkfish during winter when it gains a bit more weight naturally. This arguably makes Japanese ankimo more ethical than European foie gras.
The demand for ankimo has been steadily growing all over the world as many people want to try the dish. The Japanese have been consuming the monkfish foie gras for centuries, thus making it an inevitable part of their culture.
Next time you go to a sushi or sashimi restaurant, ask for ankimo as it is definitely a must-try. You could also try preparing it yourself. Expand your taste bud horizons and try this delicious Japanese delicacy!